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Sarah Laskow's Posts

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Watch two guys remove a honeybee swarm with their bare hands

Town and Country Pest Control is a father-son business in upstate New York that takes a holy-shit approach to its work. For instance, in the video below, they remove a bee colony with their bare hands and a box:

But as any bee-savvy keeper will tell you, this isn't as crazy as it looks. Swarms of honey bees like this one are likely searching for a new place to establish a hive. Since they've broken off from an established colony and aren't sure when they'll have a new home, they'll have fattened up on a bunch of honey, which makes stinging difficult. In general, though, honey bees just aren't that dangerous [PDF], beekeepers associations say:

A honey bee sting is rare indeed -- even when bees are swarming. If a honey bee stings, it is usually to defend the hive that contains its young and its food supply -- the honey bee dies as its stinger is ripped from its body.

There's even a long tradition of "bee bearding" -- attracting bees to you and letting them hang out on your body in the shape of a beard.

Read more: Animals

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These toxic household cleaners can cause asthma or burn your lungs

Ah, America. The country where you're allowed to buy products containing hazardous chemicals that other countries have banned. The Environmental Working Group, the people who brought you the Dirty Dozen list of foods to buy organic, are taking an extensive look at the chemicals in more than 2,000 cleaning products. The group's researchers are months away from being done, but they have already found a slew of products that contain chemicals that are banned abroad, emit toxic fumes that can burns your lungs or eyes, or can cause asthma.

Read more: Green Home

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Critical List: Nigeria oil spill 60 times bigger than reported; Arctic Ocean methane

Amnesty International found documents showing that a 2008 Shell oil spill in Nigeria was 60 times bigger than the company claimed.

And in Russia, 2,000 tons of oil spilled from a well over two days. But, really, who knows how much oil it was?

The thawing Arctic Ocean is releasing gobs of methane into the atmosphere.

Figuring out how climate change is going to affect Himalayan glaciers: actually really tricky!

Read more: Uncategorized

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Houstonians want walkable neighborhoods

Car-centric Houston tends to be one of our go-to examples for everything that can go wrong with a city, ever. But we may not be able to use the city as a whipping boy much longer. According to a new survey, Houstonians are seeing the light on walkable and transit-accessible neighborhoods. More than half of the people surveyed said they would settle for a smaller home if it meant living near offices, restaurants, and stores.

Yes, this is in Texas! To be fair, Stephen Klineberg, who created this survey in 1982, sounded as surprised as we are. He told the Houston Chronicle that Houston residents' desire for "a less car-centered, more urban lifestyle" was "the most dramatic change" in this year's survey. In 2010, only 39 percent of people surveyed opted for the smaller house over a single-family home with a big yard that required total car-dependency. This time around, 51 percent chose the smaller, better located house. 

Read more: Cities

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Climate denier campaigns have zero impact on belief in global warming

It's hard sometimes to ignore climate deniers: They're so wrong! About everything! But the biggest impact they seem to be having is just that: annoying environmentalists. Denialist campaigns have had little influence on the 30 percent of people who are skeptical about climate science, ABC News reports. The one thing that does change those people's opinions? The weather.

Read more: Climate Skeptics

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Singapore’s giant supertrees: The ultimate vertical gardens

Photo by Choo Yut Shing.

Singapore is in the middle of a project that looks like a Miyazaki movie come to life. The city's 18 "supertrees" do everything that normal trees do, only better. They will stretch up to 164 feet tall, grow 200 species of flowers, ferns, and epiphytes, collect solar energy, harvest rainwater, and work as a natural cooling system. Oh, and one of them has a bistro at its summit.

Read more: Cities

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In India, solar-powered ATMs use as much energy as a lightbulb

In urban America, getting money out of the bank means walking a block to the ATM. In rural India, the nearest bank branch might be a day's journey away. But now a company called Vortex Engineering is using solar power to bring convenient banking to out-of-the-way villages.

The key: The company's ATMs are energy efficient. Vortex calls them the "world's lowest power consuming ATMs," and they use just 10 percent of the energy of other banking machines, according to Yale e360. It adds up to about the same amount of energy as a lightbulb. That low energy overheads means that solar panels can provide back-up power and keeping on running even in areas where electricity service is spotty. 

Read more: Energy Efficiency

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Critical List: Snow comes in April this year; Obama campaign seeks environmentalists

New York and Pennsylvania are getting hit with an April blizzard.

The United States and Britain are going to collaborate on offshore wind development.

Lithium air batteries could extend an electric vehicle's battery life by a factor of 10 ... if anyone could figure out how to make one.

Read more: Uncategorized

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287 coastal energy facilities at risk from sea-level rise

Sea levels are rising, which means that there's a greater risk of floods that reach well over the high tide mark. By 2030, the risk that coastal floods will go four feet or more over high tide will have doubled, Climate Central reports. And in that zone lie 287 energy facilities -- power plants, natural gas facilities, and oil and gas refineries -- that now stand a greater chance of getting an unexpected bath.

The state most likely to be screwed by this state of affairs is, of course, Louisiana. Not only is it full of oil and gas infrastructure, that infrastructure has been built on low-lying ground (which they have a lot of down there). More than half of the at-risk facilities that Climate Central identified are in Louisiana.

Read more: Infrastructure

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Critical List: Climate bill passes Mexico’s senate; Bill Clinton tells enviros to ‘chill out’

The Mexican Senate passed a climate change bill that's all set to become law. Reuters reports it was "non-controversial." No wonder Republicans are so set on keeping Mexican immigrants out of the country -- they might bring in science.

Bill Clinton has a message for sustainability advocates: “Chill out – sometimes this stuff takes years." (Unless you're in Mexico, apparently.)

Two years after the BP oil spill, offshore drilling for oil is still a risky business.

And BP is still fighting with the government over how much it will have to pay for damages.

Read more: Uncategorized